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Denton Homes Ltd v. Cobb [2023] EWHC 1924 (Ch)

Mark Sefton KC recently acted for the successful Defendants in Denton Homes Ltd v. Cobb [2023] EWHC 1924 (Ch). The dispute concerned an option agreement. In 2016, the Defendants had granted the Claimant an option to purchase a potential development site. The option provided for a fixed option period, but with provision for the period to be extended if there was an outstanding planning application at the time when the option period would otherwise have expired. The Claimant sought to keep the option alive by making repeated planning applications. It claimed that each one caused the option period to be extended for a further period. The Claimant then sought to exercise the option, and sued the Defendants for specific performance. The question for the court was whether the option agreement was still in force when the Claimant sought to exercise it. That turned on a question of construction of the contractual provisions under which the option period would be extended. David Halpern KC, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, rejected the Claimant’s construction, declared that the option agreement had expired, and dismissed the claim for specific performance. A copy of the Judgment is here.

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